Questionnaire Results

With the call of the federal election, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers asked each of the registered parties five questions that we thought would be of interest to our members and specifically prairie grain farmers.

On September 11, 2019 the following questions were sent to each party. As of October 14, 2019, we heard back from six parties. Should other parties submit their answers, we will update the survey.

1. As the next federal government, what would your top priorities be for farmers and the agriculture industry across the prairies?

Conservative Party of Canada

The current federal government has taken Canada’s agriculture sector for granted since the day they took office in 2015. Whether it be by forcing the job-killing carbon tax on provinces, failing to standup to countries who erect unfair barriers to our world-class agriculture exports, or increasing the red tape for our businesses that stifle investment. Four years have shown that farmers are not a priority for the Liberals.

An Andrew Scheer government will cancel the carbon tax, take a more aggressive approach to opening new markets and breaking down trade barriers, and work hard to reduce unnecessary regulation so farmers can thrive. 

It is also important to stress that the Conservative Party is very concerned that a Liberal/NDP coalition government will continue to enact policies and regulations that will hurt Canada’s already worsening competitiveness.

Liberal Party of Canada

We will continue to push towards our goal of $75 billion in agriculture exports by 2025. Our government is committed to diversifying trade and opening new markets for Canadian exporters – including Canada’s farmers. We will also stand up for Canadian farmers who are facing non-tariff trade barriers that restrict trade. Our high-quality agriculture and agri-food products are in demand around the globe and we want to help our farming families to make the most of that.

Our government has been proud to invest in the future of farming to ensure we continue to punch above our weight in the global market. Thanks to investments, such as the up to $50 million we have committed to the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network this past summer, Canadian farmers will have new technologies and systems that will help make their farms more efficient.

We know that business risk management programs are critical to ensuring that farmers have the help they need to manage risks beyond their control. We are committed to moving forward together with the provinces and territories on a collaborative review to improve Canada’s business risk management programs. We know many farmers and producers have voiced concerns about the AgriStability program. We are are prepared to increase the federal support to AgriStability to ensure farmers have the support they need to help manage risks beyond their control including market access challenges.

New Democratic Party

Agriculture isn’t just the backbone of our economy, farming is an incredible source of pride for our communities and our country. For too long, out of touch governments in Ottawa have promised to focus on the priorities of farmers and the needs of the agriculture industry, but when we needed them the most, the only priorities they cared about were their rich friends and wealthy corporations. Liberals and Conservatives alike will promise anything to get elected but as soon as they get to Ottawa they’ll sell us out behind closed doors at the request of lobbyists and insiders. Just like farmers built our country, farmers built our party. We’ve always had the backs of farmers and we’ll always be in it for you. Unlike Liberals and conservatives our priorities will always be your priorities. We heard from farmers and from the agriculture industry that we need a national food strategy to better address regional needs and priorities – so that’s exactly what we’ll do. A New Democrat government will invest in our agricultural communities, better support young and new farmers and taking steps to ensure that rural livelihoods are good and sustainable.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party’s priorities for farmers include restructuring food markets to provide farm families with a fair share of the consumer food dollar and shifting to more sustainable production systems for both crops and livestock. This will improve food security and sovereignty while reducing climate-changing pollution and increasing the soil’s ability to store carbon and retain productivity in the face of climate change. To achieve this, a Green government will:

  • Fund research and extend support for farmers shifting from conventional to organic and regenerative farming systems which work with nature, not against it, to produce food.
  • Protect the right of farmers to save their own seed and promote heritage seed banks and seed exchange programs.
  • Set a target to replace a third of Canada’s food imports with domestic production, increasing regional food self-reliance and returning 15 billion food dollars back into our economy.
  • Restore the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation measures for adaptation to drought conditions.
  • Restructure Canada’s Business Risk Management Programs to help farmers cope with climate risk, with the focus on disaster assistance.
  • Reinstate the Canada Land Inventory program to provide a comprehensive record of existing and potential agricultural land.
  • Provide effective fiscal incentives to other levels of government to preserve farmlands under their jurisdictions.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

  • The CHP would develop a national food strategy. There is no more important task for our nation than food production.
  • CHP will review existing marketing boards on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are still meeting the needs of the producers they represent as well as Canadian consumers.

Marijuana Party

Theoretically speaking, the cultivation of cannabis, particularly as hemp for food seeds and fiber stalks, should be subsidized enough to be able to completely recover from the consequences of its total criminalization from 1938 to 1998, as well as recover from the ridiculously restrictive regulations that have continued to be applied from 1998 until now.

2. What is your party’s position on free and competitive markets in international trade, including the elimination of export subsidies, reduction of trade-distorting domestic support, and reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers that inhibit market access?

Conservative Party of Canada

Our previous Conservative government took market access very seriously. We signed 53 trade deals in less than ten years in office and worked hard to remove non-tariff trade barriers when they came up. An Andrew Scheer government would continue this proud tradition, which will include taking a more aggressive approach to removing non-tariff trade barriers.

On trade, our election platform includes the following:

Stand Up for Canada’s Trade Interests: To support Canadian industries, a new Conservative government’s focus will remain squarely on promoting Canada’s competitive advantage in global supply chains. Justin Trudeau has prioritized self-congratulatory speeches that charm celebrities and aggravate our trading partners. It is time to focus on Canadians, not Trudeau’s progressive posturing.

We will respond forcefully to non-tariff barriers, particularly in the agriculture sector, and foreign industrial subsidies so that Canadians can compete on a level playing field. Many of the trade disputes that have been big barriers to our exports of agricultural goods have been met with half-hearted responses from Justin Trudeau. Canadian canola, soy, pork, beef, berries, lentils, and many other products have been impacted, costing Canadian producers hundreds of millions of dollars. A Conservative government would set up global monitoring of non-tariff barriers and aggressively challenge these at the World Trade Organization. We would also be willing to retaliate with our own trade sanctions, such as imposing tariffs or regulatory restrictions, to forcefully defend Canada’s trade interests.

To ensure that our trading partners live up to the spirit, not just the letter, of our agreements, we will insist on chapters dealing with non-tariff trade barriers in future trade deals. Decades ago, the primary barriers to trade were tariffs. As these have come down, it is now regulatory and non-tariff barriers that are the biggest problems for Canadian exporters, particularly in the agricultural sector. Canadian canola, soy, pork, beef, berries, lentils, and many other products have been blocked by arbitrary rules overseas. We will include chapters in future trade agreements to address these issues and to find new ways for resolving these types of regulatory disputes.

Create a CETA and CPTPP Accelerator: To better support our small and medium enterprises on the world stage, we will provide extra funding to support Canada’s entrepreneurs in finding customers in Europe as well as in markets opened by our new free trade agreements. Sometimes, just signing a trade agreement is not enough. An ‘accelerator’ is necessary to take full advantage of these newly opened markets. This accelerator will provide market intelligence or advice on local regulations, as well as funding to attend trade shows.

Share Better Information About our Free Trade Agreements with Canada’s Businesses: To help small and medium enterprises understand the benefits of a free trade agreement to their business, we will provide valuable industry-by-industry market intelligence to exporters – not just agreement-by-agreement – so they can learn where the greatest opportunities are.

Liberal Party of Canada

We know that securing new markets means new customers for Canadian farmers – helping them to grow, remain competitive, and create good jobs for the middle class, and have been making smart investments to create new opportunities for Canadian exports to expand in markets around the world.

With new trade deals with the US, EU and Asia Pacific countries, Canadian businesses are now connected to 1.5 billion consumers in over 50 countries. These agreements were just a first step. Our Liberal government is investing over $1 billion to help Canadian exporters access those markets to expand their innovative ideas and products globally.

A re-elected Liberal government will keep working to get Canadian goods to the world so businesses remain competitive, our economy stays strong, and more good jobs are created here at home. We will continue our support of the rules-based international order and will look for every opportunity to knock down tariff and non-tariff barriers that continue to limit market access for Canadian producers.

New Democratic Party

New Democrats know that trade is essential for our economic success. For too long though, Liberals inaction and Conservatives cuts have been putting our market access at risk. The Liberals said they’d fight for our producers, farmers, ranchers, and the industry during the election but as soon as they got to Ottawa they signed deals that hurt the industry and made things more expensive for Canadians. Unlike Liberals who think that what’s fair for lobbyists and insiders is fair for them, New Democrats think that trade deals should be fair for everyday Canadians first. We expect trade deals to be fair, respect human rights, protect the environment, and we’ll always put the interests of Canadian workers and communities first over the interests of insiders and wealthy corporations. We will defend Canadian workers in trade negotiations and stand up against unfair tariffs. To build on the pride and quality of Canadian agricultural products, we will work with producers along the supply chain to increase the amount of Canadian food that is sold, processed, and consumed in local and regional markets.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party believes that import tariffs, duties, and export subsidies need to be rationalized to ensure that federal policy maintains a balance between ensuring Canadians have access to affordable essentials and ensuring that foreign businesses do not hold an unfair trade advantage over domestic businesses.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

  • Our position is that Canada must be able to provide food for our national in times of trouble. If we allow international trade to affect our own production of food then we have not done our duty as a government.
  • Carefully administered tariffs do have a place in protecting our food supply.

Marijuana Party

It is a cruel joke to speak about “free and competitive markets in international trade.” Although those ideals may well abstractly make sense, the real situations are pretty well the total opposite of those. Therefore, in that real context, to argue for “free and competitive markets in international trade” is to argue for Canadian agricultural production to commit collective suicide.

3. What is your party’s position on a carbon pricing system, including on a credit and debit system that acknowledges the significant carbon reductions being achieved by prairie grain growers through modern farming techniques and sequestering?

Conservative Party of Canada

Our position has been clear from the very beginning: an Andrew Scheer government would cancel the Liberal’s job-killing carbon tax. Our environment plan will focus on technology, not taxes; it will force major emitters to invest in green technology. Farmers are not considered major emitters and will not be subject to this provision. We will not implement a carbon pricing system.

Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party recognizes that Canadian farmers and growers are responsible stewards of the land.

In government, we have a proven history of supporting the agricultural sector’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in areas like soil health, carbon sequestration, clean technologies, and value-added bio-products.

As part of our commitment to tackling climate change and growing the economy – we ensured it is no longer free to pollute across Canada. In jurisdictions that did not take leadership and implement a price on pollution, there is a federal backstop in place that will incent innovation, and ensure lower emissions, cleaner air, new business opportunities and more money in the pockets of Canadians.

It is required, by law, that all of the revenue from carbon pricing return to the jurisdiction that it came from. In Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and on January 1st  of 2020 in Alberta, 90% of the revenue from the federal backstop goes directly back to people in a Climate Action Incentive rebate when they file their taxes – such that 80% of families will be better off, as confirmed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office. Residents in rural areas receive an additional 10% top-up.

Our pollution pricing policy also reflects the realities of our agricultural industry. Gasoline and diesel fuels for on-farm use have always been exempted under the federal backstop, and in Budget 2019, we clarified that fuels obtained from card lock facilities are included.

Our system for heavy industry – the Output Based Pricing System – supports industry and businesses that are emissions intensive and trade exposed in reducing their emissions, while continuing to be competitive.

We know that farmers complete in global markets – which is why the OBPS covers fertilizer production, and why a similar system applies to the greenhouse sector.

Budget 2019 included funding in creating a National Offset System, and a re-elected Liberal government will continue its work on developing an offset system where companies participating in the OBPS can buy offset credits to reduce emissions that are not part of the carbon pricing system. Offset credits can provide an important opportunity to receive compensation for reducing agricultural emissions.

Lastly, we have committed to review the federal backstop in 2022 and to do an early review in 2020 focused on competitiveness issues in trade exposed industries, such as agriculture. We will continue to work with farmers and all parts of the Canadian economy to ensure that the backstop is working well for them.

We will continue working together with farmers and the sector to help them adapt to the effects of climate change, and stay on the cutting edge of innovative solutions.

New Democratic Party

Canadian farmers are at the forefront of the climate crisis. Changing climates can mean that once in a hundred-year floods and earth scorching droughts are not only happening in the same year, they’re happening every year. If want to protect our food security, and ensure the long term sustainability of our land, air, and water it’s time we fight the climate crisis like we actually want to win. Part of that fight means reducing greenhouse gasses, transitioning to a low carbon economy, and making those that pollute the most shoulder some of the cost for cleanup. Instead of making the people responsible for the climate crisis – the big corporations and the rich – pay their fair share, Trudeau caved to
the demands of lobbyists and insiders and cut big polluters a big break. All the while making you pay more. We will make carbon pricing fairer and roll back the breaks that have been given to big polluters, making them pay their fair share and not put the entire burden on individual households.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party will maintain a broad-based, revenue neutral carbon fee on all sources of carbon dioxide pollution. Revenues from the carbon fee will be returned to Canadians as a dividend.

This being said, the Green party will fund research and extend support for farmers shifting from conventional to organic and regenerative farming systems which work with nature, not against it, to produce food. Greens will invest $2.5 million per year into a land and quota trust program and farming apprenticeship programs to expand local small-scale agriculture and help new farmers get started.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

  • Our position is that carbon pricing is paying for a something that doesn’t actually exist. Climate has always changed and man’s desire to control the climate cannot be successfully completed. Further, the increased prices as a result of carbon taxes imposes a financial burden on many Canadians and abroad the burden becomes unbearable in societies that are already destitute.
  • CHP Canada holds the position that the only tax Canadians should pay is a Fair Tax… similar to the GST.

Marijuana Party

We are actually living in a world where cultivation of the single best plant for people, i.e., hemp for food, fiber, fun and medicine was completely criminalized on the basis of huge lies for decade after decade, while the recent bogus “legalization” has been built on up-dated versions of the same old huge lies. Perceiving that puts everything else into proper perspective! “Carbon pricing systems, including on a credit and debit system” would necessarily be manifesting through fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting systems which dominate the whole of Globalized Neolithic Civilization, whereby private banks are able to create the public money supplies out of nothing as debts, while governments enforce those frauds. A Civilization which was completely crazy and corrupt to the core criminalized cannabis, and it is that same civilization into which cannabis is undergoing bogus “legalization.” Since the existing “credit” systems are based on governments enforcing frauds by big private banks, and for the big corporations that grew up around those big banks being able to create money out of nothing as debts, the question above is implicitly taking for granted that somehow those notions are “solutions.”  Those are yet another colossal scam.

4. Farmers depend on road and rail infrastructure to bring in inputs (seed and fertilizer) and export grain. What is your party’s position on the grain transportation system and the ability to maintain an accountable and efficient system considering possible future overcrowding on the rail system? How will your party support rural infrastructure investment?

Conservative Party of Canada

Our previous Conservative government understood the importance of the rail system to western farmers. We took swift action to address the rail backlog such as mandating rail companies to move minimum volumes of goods. We will closely monitor the rail transportation system going forward and, as we did previously, will take necessary action to ensure that our farmers can get their product to market.

An Andrew Scheer government would ensure that rural and remote communities get their fair share of infrastructure dollars by setting aside a budget specifically for them.

Liberal Party of Canada

We know that rail infrastructure is critical for getting your product to market as the grain you produce needs to pass on rail to port as it makes its way to customers around the world. That is why we passed and are working to implement Bill C49 to ensure long term stability and fairness of grain transportation.

We are also investing $10 billion in trade and transportation corridors to help get our products to market, including a total of $2 billion over 11 years has been allocated for the National Trade Corridors Fund, which will support projects to efficiently move goods to market and people to their destinations, stimulate economic growth, create quality middle-class jobs, and ensure that Canada’s transportation networks remain competitive and efficient.

An example of key investments are those we made to improve efficiency at the Port of Vancouver, a critical bottleneck for agricultural exports in Western Canada. These investments will improve the fluidity and performance of the transportation system, increase the value and volume of goods exported from Canada to overseas markets, and generate new overseas trade as a result of the investment.

Under the Conservative government in 2013–14, some of the biggest backlogs of grain shipments ever recorded cost grain farmers across Canada $6.5 billion dollars. We cannot allow that to happen again.

New Democratic Party

The Liberals promised to fight for farmers and increase market access in public but behind closed doors he caved to CN and CP and his half measures did nothing to help our farmers. Grain growers are already losing market access for their product to places like China and Justin Trudeau’s failure to stand up for Canada’s grain, pulse, and soy farmers during trade wars has only made things worse. Liberals and conservatives might talk a big game but at the of the day that’s all they have to offer – talk. Farmers deserve better than empty talk and broken promises but they don’t get paid when their grain isn’t moving.

An NDP government would ensure that rail transportation finally treats farmers fairly and helps you get your products to market quickly and affordably. But we also know the backlog on the rails and price-gouging isn’t the only problem our grain farmers face. We’ll also invest in farm communities by supporting regional economic development agencies and provide economic support for rural areas to invest in job creation and community development. Rural communities need fair access to federal infrastructure and transit funds, and more help to prepare for and deal with the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. New Democrats will work with provinces to put in place a new deal for rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding for communities.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party of Canada is committed to developing a Green Freight Transport program to address freight transportation, greenhouse gas emissions and diesel pollution through a comprehensive program of tax incentives, assessment tools, and technical assistance to help the shipping community identify and adopt safer, cleaner, and more efficient technologies and strategies. Greens will also provide funding to Via Rail to build several sections of 10 km of track to avoid bottlenecks where heavy freight and passenger trains bottleneck. We would also assist in re-establishing the infrastructure for local food production in canneries, slaughterhouses and other value-added food processing.

A Green government will support the model of collaborative federalism, working with and ensuring fair treatment for provinces, territories, municipalities and Indigenous Peoples by establishing a Council of Canadian Governments to set higher order policy priorities, with the goal of policy coherence to optimize public spending. Greens would also institutionalize federal transfers to municipalities through the creation of a Municipal Fund, renaming the Gas Tax funds, which were delinked from gas tax revenue years ago, and ensure a doubling of current funding to ensure predictable and reliable funding to municipalities for infrastructure projects most needed by their communities. One per cent of GST would also be allocated to housing and other municipal infrastructure on an ongoing basis to provide a consistent baseline of funding.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

  • Our position is that the levels of government in the closest proximity are most able to determine the needs of the locals.
  • Our Infrastructure improvement loan could be used my local governments to make the necessary changes to local infrastructure.

Marijuana Party

It is a valid exercise of the powers of government to make and maintain infrastructure. Theoretically speaking, the Bank of Canada should again return to doing so, although it has not significantly done so since 1974. As long as the underlying situations continue to be almost completely crazy and corrupt, as well as automatically getting worse, faster, there is no reasonable hope that there will be genuinely supported rural infrastructure investment, since all investment actually operates through fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting systems. The actually existing vicious feedback loops of the funding of the political processes will not allow anything other than the existing systems to automatically get worse, faster, in ways which will increasingly tend to destroy rural communities. Too bad, so sad.

5. What is your party’s position on the development of agricultural innovations that make farmers more profitable and sustainable, with a science-based regulatory approval process for the introduction of new technologies, including the adoption of genetically modified crops?

Conservative Party of Canada

As was the case with our previous Conservative government, an Andrew Scheer government would support a science-based regulatory approvals process for the introduction of new technologies, including the adoption of genetically modified crops.

Our platform also includes the following promise to modernize grain regulation:

Modernize the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission: To support farmers, we will make sure that the Canada Grain Act (CGA) and Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) align with modern agricultural practices, global market requirements, and the needs of our farmers. Agriculture has changed drastically in recent decades. Unfortunately, the regulation of agriculture in Canada has not always kept up with the market. We will bring the CGA and CGC in line with today’s standards in consultation with farmers.

Return Overcharged User Fees to Farmers: To put more money in the pockets of farmers, as part of the modernization of the CGA and CGC, we will return the $130 million in overcharged user fees amassed by the CGC to farmers.

Liberal Party of Canada

Canada has one of the safest and most abundant food supplies in the world, thanks in part to our strong regulatory system. We are committed to evidence-based decision making rooted in sound science, but we also understand that Canada’s regulations need to run at the speed of business. That’s why the agri-food sector was identified as one of four priority high-growth sectors for the regulatory review process. In June 2019 the Government published regulatory roadmaps that will help to create a more responsive regulatory environment to sustain the competitiveness of the agri-food sector.

We are committed to maintaining Canada’s science-based regulatory process for the approval of new novel crops and foods. At the same time, we will ensure our science-based process can keep up with the pace of technological advancement and innovation within the biotechnological sector – while always ensuring that neither the health nor safety of Canadians is compromised. Indeed, it is because of our approach’s ability to manage flexibility through the novel foods regulatory system that Canada’s process is well-respected worldwide. Moving forward, we will venture to provide greater regulatory certainty regarding which products are subject to regulation – while at the same time maintaining the strengths of our system. We will also continue to engage with international partners to ensure global approaches to the management of biotechnology are practical, science-based and transparent.

We know that innovation is vitally important to keeping our agricultural sector and farmers on the cutting edge to maintain our competitive position in the global market. That is why we have made significant investments to support innovation and science in agriculture. This includes almost $700 million under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support science and innovation, including $13.9 million for the wheat research cluster, over $150 million in the Protein Industries Supercluster and more recently $50 million from ISED’s Strategic Innovation Fund has been announced to help the agricultural sector harness the potential of emerging digital technologies.

New Democratic Party

Canada’s farmers are some of the most innovative in the world. But we know that farmers can’t do it alone, and our government is committed to ensuring they have the supports they need to continue to grow and innovate. Look no further than the yellow canola fields across the prairies for the example of a home-grown success story with roots in public research. To keep Canadian agriculture on the cutting edge of knowledge and innovation, and provide direct economic benefit to our farmers, New Democrats will invest in public agricultural research and data collection.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party’s priority is supporting small-scale agriculture and a rapid transition to regenerative practices that counter the more negative aspects of the contemporary push towards industrial food production. Greens support evidence-based decision making and are willing to work with those in the agricultural industry to see where innovation funding could help farmers become more profitable while transitioning to more sustainable farming techniques.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

  • Farming is essential to the future of our country.
  • There are concerns about GMO. These must be sufficient addressed to satisfy the consumer before Genetic Modification is accepted. Continued Research in these areas must be done before meeting with our approval.  We see a great increase in allergies to foods we have traditionally consumed. This tells us there are problems in our food supply. These must be addressed.

Marijuana Party

Again, another nice ideal in theory, but which, in practice, becomes almost totally perverted. Globalized Neolithic Civilization was made and maintained by excessively successful applications of the methods of organized crime on larger and larger scales. Advancing science and technology was actually applied through sociopolitical systems based on enforcing frauds, such that about exponential progress in science and technology actually resulted in about exponentially increasing fraudulence. Overall, Civilization is manifesting runaway criminal insanities, which includes the ways that genetically modified crops were developed and deployed.

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